Science Unplugged series shines spotlight on research and ‘smelly’ journalism

The second Science Unplugged event, hosted by the Faculty of Science at York University, was buzzing with Halloween spirit and excitement during the event on Oct. 31.

Science Unplugged is a learning and social event series that features diverse and quirky presentations by members and associates of the Faculty. Approximately 70 people attended this event, including faculty members, staff, graduate students and postdocs.

Kate Allen
Ray Jayawardhana

The event began with some mingling over refreshments and a welcome from Faculty of Science Dean Ray Jayawardhana, who introduced the speakers headlining the event.

Toronto Star’s Kate Allen – also York Science Communicator-in-Residence at the Faculty this fall – spoke about the “Smelliest Science Journalism”. She shared her experiences on what it was like to report on a dead blue whale that washed up on the shores of Newfoundland, which later became a science exhibit spearheaded by the ROM.

Canada Research Chair Thomas Baumgartner, who joined the Faculty in the Chemistry Department in summer 2017, presented “Playing Lego with Molecules to Make Plastics Smarter”. He spoke about the research he is conducting to design novel materials in a sustainable way (specifically addressing energy conversion and storage). His research program also includes designing luminescent biomarkers and sensors for a variety of cellular processes.

Finally, postdoctoral fellow Amy Botta, one of the Faculty’s inaugural York Science Fellows, presented “Jekyll and Hyde: The Dual Nature of Fat & Iron”. She spoke about the research she is conducting in Biology Professor Gary Sweeney’s lab to investigate how iron overload affects cellular mechanisms and can lead to cardiac dysfunction.

Following the presentations, guests and speakers interacted over light refreshments.